As the discovery of new music increasingly moves to downloading and streaming, taking the time to ensure your online music sounds as good as it can takes on ever greater importance. For many independent artists, a new listener’s first impression will be formed by hearing some type of compressed audio file.
Properly encoding your files for digital distribution is definitely not a one size fits all solution, as different sites and different processes use different bit rates. The bit rate is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time, and in simple terms, the more bits, the better the sound quality. Streaming radio portals such as Pandora and LastFM generally utilize lower bit rate coding schemes (64-128 kilobits per second) than download sites such as iTunes and Amazon (256 kbps).